How to Live like a Local on New Zealand’s South Island
Thinking of visiting New Zealand’s majestic South Island? At Flight Centre, we work closely with in-destination Experts who offer first-hand tips, advice and secrets so we can tailor make your perfect holiday. While creating some of our latest New Zealand itineraries, we spoke to several such Experts on the South Island to get their top tips on how you can live like a local on your next trip:
Visit Roys Peak
TRAVEL EXPERT: Catriona McCormack
I've just moved down to Queenstown and have been lucky enough to explore the surrounding areas. This picture is from a walk I just did in Wanaka, to Roys Peak. It has absolutely incredible views. It’s a tough slog to the top, but so worth it.
TRAVEL EXPERT: Manu Reiri
Invercargill is an amazing little place to come to. In the summertime the days are long and warm, which means that you can enjoy a late barbecue with friends, ride that afternoon surf at Oreti Beach a little longer (did I mention you can drive right onto the beach?) and stay out diving in some of the most pristine places. The seafood is bountiful, the cheese rolls are on-point and the southern hospitality is second to none.
Meet a sea lion
TRAVEL EXPERT: Rose Ingram
Piha is only a short drive from the city centre. It has amazing beaches, great surf, awesome treks and the possibility of spotting sea lions or whales.
Eat chicken waffles
TRAVEL EXPERT: Lara Rye
This is my favourite café in the whole country: Fidel's in Wellington. The chicken waffles are amazing and it's an awesome place to go All Black / Hurricanes spotting. Coffee with a side of Ma'a Nonu is no bad thing.
Hike a volcano
TRAVEL EXPERT: Holly Summer
Rangitoto is a monumental volcanic island which sits across the water from Auckland city itself. Rugged and uninhabited, the views across to the city from the summit are unparalleled.
You can take the ferry over (departs twice a day) or my favourite way to explore the island is via a sunset tour. You’ll paddle over in the afternoon sun before enjoying a delicious barbecue dinner, hiking to the summit of the volcano (when all other tourists have left for the day), and watching the sunset over the calm city. It’s a must-do unique experience in Auckland, subject to season and weather of course.
Discover dangerous train history
TRAVEL EXPERT: Stevie Morrison
The Fell Locomotive Museum is a hidden gem! I only just discovered this myself a couple of months ago. It focuses on the history of the Fell trains that were used to get across the Rimutaka Hill (famed for its steep incline) back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, as well as the settlement that was built there for the train community. The trains were incredibly dangerous for the operators and took a lot of maintenance. This is a slice of really interesting local history and not many people know about it.
Try famous fare
TRAVEL EXPERT: Jacqui Dickson
One of the most iconic places for fish and chips up North is the Mangonui Fish Shop.
Get hot at Huka Falls
TRAVEL EXPERT: Abbey Hay
Stroll along the Waikato River to the Huka Falls Walkway. As you follow the trail, you’ll walk past an amazing hotspot (literally) where the water heats up to 42ᵒC as it comes from the small water falls.
Step through Hells Gate
TRAVEL EXPERT: Amanda Aldridge
I love Hells Gate. Otherwise known as Tikitere, it is a big geothermal park on the way out of town towards Whakatane, and is perfect for spending an hour or two just wandering around. Afterwards you can enjoy a thermal mud pool (great for your skin!) and then clean off in the sulphur hot pool. They will bring you water to drink in the pool, so you don't have to get out for any reason so is good for winter too. Alternatively you can opt for Te Puia, which has the Pohutu Geyser that erupts up to 20 times a day.